Can the #24 Team Win Cup #25?
Updated: Aug 2
by Waldo 1947 | The Habs Extremist
We live in a world that seems to celebrate mediocrity. Kids get participation ribbons just for showing up. Many youth sports leagues do not keep score so everyone (theoretically) plays only for fun. I digress, but do the heads of these leagues realize that 75% of the parents and 100% of the kids are keeping score on their own? The other 25% of the parents are on their iPhones bragging on Facebook that little Frankie is dominating the soccer game hoping for the virtual world to recognize their amazing parenting skills. (Frankie is picking dandelions 2 fields over unbeknownst to “Facebook Mom”.)
Students who excel in the classroom are often told to be quiet about their accomplishments so other children do not feel inferior. The ultra-competitive kid in a sport or in gym class is told to let the weaker players have a chance to earn some unearned glory. Even parents who ignite a competitive spirit in their child are looked down upon by other parents for creating an environment that celebrates winners. Heaven forbid another child learns at an early age that he/she may not be good enough at a sport or in the classroom. They might have to work harder to earn a spot on the competitive team or on the honour roll. Those of us who admonish mediocrity and encourage our children to learn from failure often point to professional sports as the ultimate meritocracy where only the best get rewarded. The best teams make the playoffs. The best players get the money. The best coaches get the credit. The best GMs build the best rosters. On it goes...until this year.
It took a worldwide pandemic for the 24th ranked Montreal Canadiens to make the playoffs. Nothing says Stanley Cup Contender like the mighty 31-31-9 Habs! I have been very critical of Marc Bergevin and his brain trust this season. The fact that the Habs enter this tournament as the 24th ranked team says everything about the roster Bergevin has constructed. Buffalo and
New Jersey finished 3 points behind the Habs and both had 2 games in-hand. Think about that - had the Sabres or Devils won those games, they are in the tournament and the Habs are not. Given the turbulence of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the “bubble-city” logistics, cliches be-damned, this really is anyone’s Cup to win. The top 4 teams - Boston, St. Louis, Colorado, and Tampa Bay are just as rusty as the rest of the league. The Flyers finished the season on a 9-1-0 run; does it really matter? Do Edmonton and Toronto have home-ice advantage even with no fans in the building? The reason I bring this up is that anything is possible, including a deep run by the Habs. If Carey Price gets hot and the young legs take Pittsburgh and others by surprise, there is no reason that the Habs cannot make some noise in these frenetic playoffs. The “noise” is what scares me. Remember the 2017 Eastern Final when Ottawa was “one-shot away” from beating Pittsburgh and advancing to the Cup Final? The Senators grossly overestimated their roster, got caught up in the “noise”, and have been in tatters since. (That said, they show a ton of promise going forward.) What if this same “noise” puts the Habs in a similar predicament? I am not for a second suggesting that the Habs will win the Cup, but is a Conference Final enough noise to trick Jeff Molson into doubling down on Bergevin and his administration? Do we then have 5-8 more years of mediocrity in Montreal? Of course, what is more likely is that the Habs flame out in 3-straight giving them a 12.5% chance at landing the #1 pick: Alexis Lafrenière. That's some noise I can get behind! Waldo1947